Friday, December 31, 2010


After a while, I suppose you don’t even notice that it’s New Year’s Eve. Lord, the permutations I have known for this day! From parties in my youth, to the more sedate but in their own way exciting dinner parties in my young adulthood, to trips away and dinners out... all that wonderful stuff.

And tonight? Our concession to this foggy Eve is that we go to Trader Joe’s and pick out an inexpensive sparkling wine. Oh, and I coax Ed into buying flowers for the table. It’s a gorgeous bunch, even if it is only $6.99.



I will eventually reheat the soup I made last night – one of those throw vegetables in a pot kind of soups that we eat on the couch out of huge mugs. Ed is nursing his sore ankle and threatening to play volley ball again soon, even though his foot is the size of a watermelon right now. Men and athletic injuries – there’s a frustrating combination!

And so there you have it – three big party days in a row for Wisconsinites (New Year’s, the Rose Bowl tomorrow, and some Packer game or other on Sunday) and I remain quite neutral to it all.

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And I cannot say that this makes me very sad.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


My eating patterns change when I’m around my kids. When else would I start off the day with this kind of breakfast?

(at Jam, a few blocks down from my daughter’s new Chicago place)

And when have you seen me eat a big lunch? When my girl asks – hey mom, I’m getting a banh mi, do you want one? What is that? – I want to know. A yummy sandwich with daikon, carrot, cilantro, jalapenos and lemongrass tofu. Sure, I say. Because I’m curious and because she’s eating one and that makes me hungry.

I’m less helpful with unpacking today. I retreat to grading, wanting very much to finish this monstrous chore by the New Year. But I do run a few errands and it’s a welcome break from basically staying put and eating.

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By evening, she and I put aside our various work. My older daughter has already left Chicago to see friends somewhere on the other side of the continent and my younger one will be taking off tomorrow. But this evening is still ours – hers and mine – and she takes me for a celebratory drink – a new year/old year drink at the Violet Hour, and it is the most dangerously delicious drink on the planet. 

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We eat a Greek meal at Taxim and she reminds me that when I was near her age, I had a crazed romance with a Greek man who was a bar tender on one of the more remote Greek islands. It's an unfortunate memory (though one with an indifferent ending) and I am thinking that it's good that my daughters are less insane in their revelries, but, too, that I did eventually learn to enjoy calmer days and quiet nights. There comes a time when you would rather spend an evening reading or writing than throwing plates and dancing in circles with someone who doesn't speak your language nor you his.

Which is good, because I am returning to Madison and most likely my New Year’s Eve will be with Ed and I’ll be reading or writing and he’ll be resting. My occasional traveling companion sprained his ankle playing volley ball the other day – rather poor timing, as we are to leave next week to do some hiking (in a place where, unfortunately, neither of us speaks the language).

For now, I'm buried in work papers. It's foggy outside. The year's end is quiet. And that's not a bad thing.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


And so we unpack. One box after another of my daughter’s stuff. And I get somewhat awed by how much life she has had since she left home to go to college some eight years ago. I flip through a book of photos that a friend of hers made for her. Such memories. Hers, not mine.

My older girl’s here, too, but I’ve known for a while with her that I no longer have a grasp of the small or sometimes even large details of her life. And really, I’m pleased with all of this. Independence is a good thing. And still, it is slightly disconcerting to step in now, a guest really, touching details of a life that is very much moving forward (as it has been for years) on its own.

We unpack some more. She has been a collector of household items, waiting, patiently waiting for the moment when she would have her own home. And now, finally she does and it all comes out. The kitchen timer that I gave her a couple of Christmases ago. The delicate bowls from Japan. Mixed in with this and that, collected, along with her own memories, her own resources.

In returning from one of the numerous runs out to take out broken down cardboard and sacks full of packing paper, I take a detour to the roof of her three story walk up apartment building. What a view!


The funny thing is that when I was way younger than my littlest one, not even old enough to legally buy myself a drink at a local tavern, I moved to the south of Chicago and I rented a studio with a similar view, only from the south side.

We’re all old enough to buy a drink, any drink now and in the evening, we go to the Big Star. Just a quick walk from her place. It's a hell of a great taco bar and they serve mixed drinks that have components I’d never even heard of. Both daughters have been there before and I think -- when? I mean, I'm sure I heard some recount or other -- names floating by me, names without connection, without meaning because I was elsewhere and they were moving along their own path. When did all this happen?



I watch my girls and I think – these are really good kids. I can retire now. Even as I understand that I'll never retire. One more box, and another, and yet another.

One more day here and then I go back to my own warm home, to wait patiently until one comes over, or the other, or I take the bus again and then the El to this now important  corner of the world.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

from Chicago

Getting off at an El stop late in the evening is such a Chicago thing. You know where you are.


But I’m wondering, when did this city start feeling so... vibrant? When I lived here as a grad student in the seventies, I felt I was sacrificing aesthetics and pleasure for a good education. I know, I know, Chicago has always had its neighborhoods and mine, on the south side, was especially troubled. But even when I made the trip downtown or to the near west side, I felt that it was only a light reprieve from an overall depressing reality.

If people groan that New York is no longer edgy, that it has been taken over by young families with tots and strollers and sanitized places with gutted and refreshed interiors, I think the argument can be made that Chicago’s new face has been sketched by the young professionals, the pre-baby-in-a-stroller set. Or maybe the I-never-wanted-a-baby-in-a-stroller-to-begin-with set. The countless bars, cafes, good food choices attest to that. Suddenly, it’s a cool place to live.

I’m in a neighborhood now that, even on this cold windy (yes windy) night feels comfortably inviting. Come in, sit down for a while. Here, or here. Have a beer. Or an espresso with some locally made toffee. This is not the same city I once called home.


My daughters and I eat dinner at a local favorite. A crowded local favorite. And it feels right that we should start off with mixed drinks (something that I never do in Madison), because when someone pours elderflower and pear stuff and some form of vodka into a shaker, what comes out is delicious and warming and in Chicago, on a December night, you’d be crazy to turn that down. Besides, I'm in the neighborhood that was once the epicenter of the great Polish immigration to America. Vodka, even though diluted with fruit juices, seems fitting for this first night here.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

moving day

Each year, in the last dozen, one or the other daughter (and often both) has had to move. I’ve helped with moves that were on the top floor of four story walk ups. I’ve unpacked glassware that seemed far in excess of the cupboard space available for it. I’m sure I’ve broken down and carted off enough cardboard boxes to plant a forest.

I can’t say that I love or even like moves, but surely if they’re not fun for me, they can’t be much fun for the moving person either.

I’m taking the bus down to Chicago today to help with one more move – my youngest one is settling into her place down there and I promised I’d be around for a few days to help unpack. (I'm posting early in anticipation of Internet issues at her place later today.) Surely this is the last of the daughter moves. After that, I have one more move left in me – when I sell the condo. To the farmhouse. That’s it. No more.

(I hope.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

put your feet up...

I’ll tell you a wee little Christmas story. A fantasy? Or, maybe reality, but slightly touched up for the telling? Or a statement of true facts? You decide.

It’s Christmas morning. I’m the first out of bed – or out of couch this year. I bake the cinnamon rolls...


...and yes, the bacon. No eggs, just bacon. Twice a year I'm happy to fill the kitchen with the smell of cooked bacon and this is one of them. Bacon and cinnamon.

Everyone is up now, we exchange presents, with some apologies on my part. Fragments of gifts are somewhere in a suitcase that presumably is squashed between countless other displaced suitcases at the Paris airport.

And now comes the unhurried time. The second cup of coffee, another cinnamon roll broken off..

It’s nearly lunch time and I excuse myself for a while to retrieve something from the condo. At home, I half-heartedly dial the Air France baggage claim number. It’s been refusing calls all week long (“due to an unusually large volume of calls, we are unable....”), but here we are, noon, Christmas, and I break through the stalemate. Well, sort of. I get a different recording (“please wait and an agent will be with you...”) I wait. And wait. And then I cannot wait any longer. Lunch at my daughter’s place. I need to go. I sigh and am about to put the phone down, except I'm hearing a buzz sound on the phone, which tells me that someone is buzzing the intercom downstairs.

I have the delivery of a suitcase for you...

And so there you have it: no warning, no call, in the minute that I happen to be there, I am reunited with the bag that has all that I need to sustain me on a winter’s day. And gifts for others.

So, believable? No, except that it happens to be true.

In the evening, I do the dinner that nearly always sets the smoke alarm shrieking (a high-heat baking of cornish hens). It’s a fairly easy meal – almost southwestern in its spiciness and flavors. My girls tell me that many of our Christmas eating habits are very retro-seventies. Fondue on Christmas Eve, cornish hens on Christmas Day. Well of course! They were created during the earliest years of married life for me. Neither my ex nor I had parents who were kitchen fiends and so we had to start from scratch. I grew addicted to cooking magazines  – the hens come from a Gourmet of the early 80s. The yule log, too, is from there, though I’ve changed recipes here many times, whittling away layers of buttercream and replacing them with something lighter, easier to love after a day of eating.

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We finish the day in the same way we always finish Christmas – with me lasting only a few minutes into the carefully selected movie for the late evening. Some holiday habits cannot change.

The Rutter music from the Cambridge choir falls quiet. Shut down for the year. The next day the tree comes down.  It was quick this year -- all of it. But wonderful. Except taking down the tree. (Rushed this year because everyone's dispersing soon.)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

For the first time in some thirty years I am not in my own home on Christmas morning. In this country, where everyone just packs up and goes, without great fuss or hesitation, this history of staying put must seem a bit quaint and self indulgent. But no. It merely reflects the reality that I store the family ornaments and Christmas is where the ornaments are. Mom’s place is, at the time of holidays, home.

Not so this year. Both daughters have their own homes and one is right here in Madison and so this year, we moved the family Christmas to her place. Which means that the ornaments were schlepped across town to her apartment (and since she has little storage room, they’ll be schlepped back in a few days) and the tree is there and I have the privilege of spending a night under the Christmas tree, or at least on the couch next to it.

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I suppose I could have gone home last night and come back early this morning, but cinnamon rolls require oversight, especially if you want to do all but the baking in the late hours of the night, so that in the morning you can have the luxury of merely sticking them in the oven and mixing up the icing.

I listen to the trucks clear the streets outside – all night long they move up and down scraping and sanding and I think how we take for granted the clear roads and the de-iced planes, ready to zip us off to cousin Bertha’s, or wherever the ornaments are for us this year and I wonder if someday I’ll have to stretch and haul myself even greater distances over Christmas. It could be that the ornaments will never again go up on a tree at my place.

On the up side – at least I wont be the one forever vacuuming the tinsel out of odd places all year long,

Wishing you at least some pauses and still moments today... Enjoy the presence of people you love, or your own quiet corner if that’s where you find your peace.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve on the range, boys, Christmas Eve on the range...

And if you know that quote, you must be 1. my age, and 2. a one time fan of Dennis the Menace comic books.

That particular story was, as best as I can remember, in the style of a Charlie Brown Christmas – it had a touch of the underbelly of holiday cheer and a little bit of good will, coming from strange places. I loved it.

But then, as a kid, I loved books, comic books, TV shows – anything that had a holiday edition attached to it. There was so much less to choose from then, that what was there, was special. And, as my family had a low key attitude toward holidays in general, I peeked into the holidays of others to figure out what the fuss was all about. And it became obvious that each holiday had its mood and the mood of Christmas was musical and delicious and uplifting. Certainly not "just another day."

So it’s funny that I spend time with Ed, who feels even less inclined to think holiday thoughts – any holiday thoughts – than my family did.

Step aside then, today, Ed. We’re rolling our Christmas Eve. There’s the breakfast at the diner, the drive to a bakery for bread, to the grocers for food and then there’s the baking and the cooking which, I suppose, is a universal part of nearly every special day.

It’s a beautiful, white Christmas Eve here in Madison.


May it be a beautiful evening in your home too, whether, like Ed, you ignore the holiday completely, or, like my daughters, you plunge into it with tremendous zest and good cheer.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

effects of snow

Who would have thought, ten years back, that Facebook would be where it is today? And, conversely, didn’t it seem, ten years back, that holiday cards were a thing of the past?

They’re not. I think they’ve made a bit of a comeback. E-cards, step aside! You’re worthless. Yes, holiday cards use paper, but it's a noble usage, isn't it? Of all the pieces of paper in the mailbox, isn't the card or letter from someone the most valuable of them all?

So I’m jumping on the card bandwagon. For this brief holiday period I look forward to the arrival of the mail again. And the envelopes, often with handwritten addresses (how archaic and lovely) catch my eye, and I rush to open them and I smile at the messages inside.

In other news, I have a mountain of work and so I am forced to shut out temptations to romp and be frivolous. Holiday or no holiday, I need to move past the old semester and roll in the new one.

Still, there’s all this snow...

And I know I’ve been burdened by it in weeks past (I just wrote out my claim letter to Air France listing all the financial consequences of lost bags, cancelled flights and unavailable connections and it was a very very long letter), but Europe’s airport troubles notwithstanding, I do like snow.

And so this afternoon I put things aside and nudged Ed to go skiing with me for an hour or two. Not big time skiing on complicated trails, just calm and quiet skiing.


At least that was the goal. It seems that I could not really slow down. I forged ahead in bursts of speed as if there was a destination I had to reach in record time.

Maybe it is that you cannot relax and take things slowly when you are in the forest unless elsewhere in life you’re relaxed and taking things slowly.


Meantime, I’ve got work to do. In between tasks, I'm beginning to fill out forms listing in great detail what may have been in that missing suitcase. Would you remember all items that you packed in a suitcase a week back? I would. Five bottles of wine, four pairs of very worn corduroy pants, a hairbrush, one pair of heavy snow boots...


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

from... Madison

Tuesday. Minutes before the flight from Paris to Chicago is to take off, my daughter and I are cleared for boarding. We shelve our Plan B of having a tiny Christmas tree in our tiny hotel room and exchanging small trinkets on Christmas Eve over croissants in Paris.

Though even as we settle in our seats (freshly ours!), it is by no means certain that we will take off. Fog. But, as I’ve said, Paris is used to fog and as one does well with familiar nuisances, so too, Paris functions well on this densely wet day. The plane takes off.

We land in Chicago in ... fog. And without my suitcase. My daughter tells me – it's only fair; mine was lost going there.

Indeed, there is a certain symmetry to this trip: what starts oddly ends oddly. What’s foggy there is foggy here. And so on.

Of course, once back, you forget the headache, the struggle, the cloudy sky. Or, maybe it’s that in Madison, you learn that clouds have their pretty side?


The lake has iced over. Wow, so fast?


And in other news, on Wednesday, that would be the 22nd of the month (late!), we finally decorate the Christmas tree. At my daughter’s home.

All is bright.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Paris: a final spin?

Monday. It’s a dark world out there, at 6 in the morning. Or is it? More like white. It’s snowing. I call Air France a minute after their office opens and I confirm that nothing can be confirmed. Stand-by for the Tuesday flight. We will be told exactly 60 minutes before the flight if we’re on or off. What if we're off? I can almost feel the shrug over the phone. Who can tell... What about accommodations for the night? Is Air France providing another night (at the Best Western at Roissy)? Yes, sure. Go back to the airport and wait in line to get a voucher. In the alternative, send us receipts.

Well there’s a challenge! It’s not easy to get to the airport, even from the Roissy Best Western. The airport is now officially closed (again) and so the shuttle has stopped running. Still, there are always very kind people floating around if you look around and sure enough the doorman is happy to give us (and a handful of others, with equally terrible and fascinating travel stories) a ride to the airport.

I have never in my life seen lines as long as those at CDG on this day. TV cameras are there to record it. From one end of the terminal to the other (and it’s a monstrously long terminal), each person presenting a complicated travel situation. We decide on option number two: head for Paris and ask for (promised) reimbursements later.

We return to our reliable wee space at the Jardin de l’Odeon, where they welcome us with the kind of welcome you like to see after you’ve spent too many hours overcoming hurdles of one sort or another. And, delightfully, they give us a room at a special “this is a calamity” price – a fraction of their standard rate. People can be so very very nice.

We were told by at least one Air France agent (in tough times, it helps to demonstrate airline loyalty) that we had a budget for replacement items (because our bags are officially irretrievable: stuck in some inaccessible and indeterminable spot) – clothes, personal items, etc. – of 100 Euros each. That’s sort of lovely. We’ll combine a walk through favorite neighborhoods with light shopping.

And so we're back at the RER train station, waiting for the (delayed) train into town, boarding it finally, passing now the drab outskirts of the city, transformed by the delicate snow...


The starting point is, as always, an encounter with Jardin de Luxembourg.


Then, by metro...


...we head out to the Marais neighborhood...



...where I’m so happy to see that some are in fact tickled by the unexpected appearance of snow in Paris.


...with a pause for lunch at a café facing the Square. Croque Madame for me (brioche with ham and grilled cheese and a fried egg)...



... and then we do a long, beautiful walk. It’s a soothing place to shop and window shop. Even though it’s the week before Christmas, it’s relatively quiet here. Holidays come and go. The Marais remains un-flustered by it all.

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We challenge ourselves to find the perfect shopping bargains. A camisole at Maji, A shirt at the closeout sale at Et Vous, and so on. I tell my daughter that these items are, for me, special. To be worn only if we’re forced to stay beyond this day. There’s a bar of soap and warm water at the hotel to help care for what we’re wearing and a wonderful hissing radiator that’s almost as efficient as a dryer.

It'is a blissful moment in Paris. My girl says it’s like playing hooky from school (now, how would she know how that feels, I wonder...). We have no work now, no burdens, no lines to wait in, nothing to do but enjoy this day in Paris.

It’s above freezing. Parisians are out and about. A line forms, here on the right bank as well, but it’s for innocent (and free) pleasures – skating, the merry-go-round. Things that spin you around and toss you out as a happier person.

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No spinning for us. A quiet walk, now past the Notre Dame, but in the fading light of the day. The snow is nearly melted in the center of the city. Wet sidewalks, nothing more.

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We pause again for food. A crepe from a stand near the Place de l’Odeon.

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...nd a glance at the delightfully modern buches de Noel at the food halls of Bon Marche.


A lovely day. A good weather day now. We’re hoping that planes are flying again. That people stuck in lines, or sleeping on mats under blankets provided by the airport are finally able to get home.

Home. My other daughter has Ed to help her put up the tree in Madison. We’re getting closer to the holidays and yet it’s amazing how all the stresses of the season can disappear if you’re forced to do nothing at all.

Evening. I’m thinking that it’s the last one in Paris. There is a mist creeping in, enveloping the Eiffel Tower in the distance, but Paris is used to fogs. Planes take off into misty skies here often enough. Surely we’ll be on one of them?

We eat dinner at Rotisserie d’en Face. A simple meal, a meat and potatoes kind of meal. With chestnut soup and creamy desserts that I’ve seen on the menu here and elsewhere for years and years. Paris Brest. Tart Tatin. Forty years from now, they’ll still be on menus throughout this city.

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One last walk in the light drizzle of a December night. Surely tomorrow we’ll be home.

there's always Paris

On a trip that was to have only one RER train journey from the airport into Paris proper, so far, we're into our sixth.

It's early in the morning. Five maybe? We don't have suitcases (where are they?) and so it feels slightly odd to be gathering our things at the hotel, hoping for a flight home today.

We're on stand-by on a flight that has many, many stand-bys. It's this flight or no flight at all. I'll post about our last day in Paris (am I being overly optimistic?) when we have news as to what's next. Of course, you can read about Europe's air travel this week elsewhere too. In the New York Times for example.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with one photo. Paris, somewhat misty and surreal.


Monday, December 20, 2010

forever in Paris

People will say – if you have to get stuck somewhere, you could only wish that it would be in Paris.

I’ll offer a counter to that: if you have to get stuck somewhere, wouldn’t it be nice if it were Paris and not the Paris airport?

It was interesting to watch the screen with flight departures on Sunday. Our Chicago flight was scheduled for 10:35. We were checked in and waiting by 8:30. In small increments of time, our flight got pushed back 10:50. 11:00. 11:15. And so on. Then the airport closed. Whatever that means. People were checking in, handing over luggage (what a mistake), going through security, proceeding to gates as usual, even though officially, CDG was shut down.

Then, somewhere around noon, it “reopened.” A few flights started taking off. This is when, if you looked outside, you’d wonder what the issue was. The snow had stopped. There was almost no accumulation. But after watching the screen and seeing that our flight was still doing its march through the minutes of the clock – 2, 2:15, 2:30 – and observing, too, that the departures of other flights now seemed stalled, it was clear as anything that we were merely marching into oblivion. Snow or no snow, CDG had broken down. With too many cancellations and delays, it could not get its grip on the day again. It was only a question of when it would admit to it. I got in line long before the announcement came: Chicago is cancelled.

And so my daughter and I are, I suppose, lucky because we got one of the earliest standby spots. Two days from now. After repeat assurances from the agents that my airline loyalty got me the best that they can do.

Mind you, we may not get on. And it appears that between now and the holidays, every transatlantic flight is full on this and other airlines (due to the massive cancellations all week throughout Europe).

So we’re stuck. But not in Paris – at the airport.

We are such unfortunate experts at this, my daughter and I. We’ve learnt all the rules to follow when this happens – how to avoid the ten hour lines (agents will help anyone who asks for help, so find someone at the counter), how to claim cosmetics cases and free t-shirts (because you can assume that your bags will now be lost again and indeed, baggage services got overwhelmed quickly and responded as a child would under the circumstances: slam the door shut. Gone for the day. Fill out claim forms and submit them later. Somewhere, someday you may see you suitcases again).

We know, too, how to ask for a hotel voucher or at least a partial refund on your expenses (even if a cancellation is weather related, because honestly – it’s not about the weather anymore – it’s about chaos at Europe’s airports this December), and so on.

This time, we are given a voucher for the first night. Best Western at Roissy – the pseudo-village adjacent to the airport.

It is an indifferent place amidst other similarly indifferent and dated concrete structures and it serves the purpose of providing rooms for travelers who would much much rather be elsewhere. Hotels that are about as much fun as a dentist’s waiting room. At the Roissy Best Western, there is a Christmas tree, but after that, you’re given the shrug of indifference. Internet not working? Yes, we know. Shuttle bus not shuttling regularly? Yes. One traveler was hungry and asked for food. Restaurant’s closed now. But I’m hungry – traveler tells them. Yes. Desolé.

We are out of the airport and at the hotel by 4, with countless others similarly situated, each batch dropped off at different and indifferent overnight places along the shuttle bus route (one bus serves a half dozen hotels), group by group, like children off to camp – and this cabin is yours, and you go here...

And now it is getting dark. We can wait for the Roissy Best Western to open its restaurant... or not. I am with a traveler who has spirit and grit and she is willing to take the same slow-moving shuttle back to the airport and then the RER back to Paris for a better eating situation there.

Paris. You look so normal! It’s Sunday evening, people are out and about, the temperature is in the mid thirties, the moon is out.


Why did you ask your troubled child – the CDG airport – to act as the welcoming agent for those who travel here?

When in need of comfort, you go to Le Procope.



Reliably there, with a fixed dinner option of 19.90 Euro (and a la carte options as well), and such old time and all time favorites as French onion soup, fish meuniere, coq au vin, always served professionally by caring waiters, making you feel like the special person that you are, just because we are all people with good souls who occasionally need a comforting word, or meal, or both.

We finish with a shared flambéed crepe and I have to laugh here because when I ask – where are the flames, the waiter tells me – these days we do that in the kitchen. And he hands the remains of the cognac and tells me – you can sip what’s left over. Sometimes one has to take short cuts.


We travel back to CDG and then back to the Roissy Best Western and after further calls and consultations we conclude that there is not a chance in hell that we’ll be leaving Paris in the next day or so and that it is completely pointless to stand around at the airport watching the screens show nothing of help to us.

It’s Monday morning. We’re heading back to the city. For the day, for the night, who knows how many nights. My work back home is accumulating in ways I cannot even begin to describe. Christmas is around the corner and the tree is resting on the floor of my condo garage.

What can you do. At least we’re now officially out of the airport area and back in Paris. Where it’s snowing again. Snowing hard.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

to and from Paris

Saturday morning. We step out onto Charlottenstrasse in Berlin and we are dazzled by the bright light. We haven’t seen much of the sun these past days. Snow – yes, plenty of it. Snow falls from gray skies. Today the skies are incredibly blue.


But that’s in Berlin. How is it in Paris?

It appears that early flights have been canceled because of snows there, but ours is scheduled to take off. Packed again with people from previous canceled flights. There is a delay, however, and as minutes pass, I realize that our time in Paris will be very very brief.

We land in somewhat wet weather. It’s just at freezing outside, which, in a city like Paris means the sidewalks are too warm for snow to stick. We don’t quite reach for the umbrella, but others do.

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But we do walk. I have a Christmas list in my head and I am dangerously close to the stores’ closing time. Holidays or no holidays -- 7 p.m., and often times, when the clerks get antsy, a few minutes before. Still, it is quite festive here. The lights dazzle.


We have one errand that’s across the river and as we cross the Seine, the snow intensifies. It must be just below freezing and the flakes are falling, fast and furious, big flakes, huge monster flakes, some surely two inches in diameter.



Beautiful! Here’s the hour for a snowstorm! Come flakes, fall now so that I can wipe everything three times over and still remain wet. And I am wet. When we go into a wine store, I wipe my glasses, the camera lens, everything, and still it’s no use. Everything is dripping with melting snow.

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But then the snow tapers off. Our boots are soaked through because there is so much slush on the ground, but no matter. We had a few hours of walking through this gorgeous, snow beleaguered city. And we have a reservation here:

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And we’re on time. The meal – a sampling menu – is as good as it gets and I could write more about, but I want a balanced post, so I’ll just show off the fantastic (and not too fussy) root vegetable carpaccio with smoked bacon foam and almond bits, and the final sweet bite of chocolate.



We walk back along the Seine... quiet now, after the rage of snow. Somber even, here by Notre Dame.


And very very early Sunday morning, we leave the hotel, glad to see that the predicted snow is holding off...

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...and we make our way past the Gardens, to the RER train and then, straight to the airport. We check in, go through security clearance and wait, happy that today it was all rather easy. We wait for our flight. And wait. And wait some more.

And then we hear the loudspeaker: there is snow, the Charles de Gaulle airport is closed.